Tuesday Toss-Up

How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel

NaNoWriMo is in the air. Can you smell it?

Sure, right now that’s the smell of excitement, stockpiles of chocolate and coffee, and possibly disinfectant, as writers furiously clean their houses one last time before NaNo sets in.

Later on, it’ll be the smell of madness and unwashed people.

You get the picture.

Folks are signed up and raring to go.

For those of you that haven’t signed up yet, fear not, there’s still time. Head on over to NaNoWriMo and get it done.

Some folks have their outlines all ready and some are just brimming with ideas.

The smile of the cheetah
Come on. When this thang gonna start already?!

Other folks, having thrown caution to the wind and signed up without the slightest clue to how they’re actually gonna finish, are now feeling the winds change and are frantically wondering if they can unsign up.

Still others are sneaking in the back door of NaNo because they’re breaking the first rule of NaNoWriMo.

You know the first rule of NaNoWriMo, right?

The first rule of NaNoWriMo is: don’t talk about NaNoWriMo.

No…wait…that’s another club.

The first rule of NaNoWriMo is: you may only begin writing your novel on Nov 1. You may not add to a pre-existing manuscript.

Okay, it’s not really the first rule. It’s something like the 4th. The rules aren’t actually numbered. Anyway…

The idea is that a partly finished novel could hold you back:

This sounds like a dumb, arbitrary rule, we know. But bringing a half-finished manuscript into NaNoWriMo all but guarantees a miserable month. You’ll care about the characters and story too much to write with the gleeful, anything-goes approach that makes NaNoWriMo such a creative rush. Give yourself the gift of a clean slate, and you’ll tap into realms of imagination and intuition that are out-of-reach when working on pre-existing manuscripts.

Read more here.

Of course, the minute you make a rule, somebody’s just gotta break it.

And one of those somebodies is me.


As I may have mentioned before, I’m hip deep in my post-apocalyptic  pre-megabestselling novel. While I’m fully aware that joining NaNo with said novel could be a total disaster (especially since I’m a NaNewbie). I might be too attached to the existing outline to really get into the NaNo psychosis spirit.

 Blah blah blah.

praying cat
Please oh please, let me finish this novel. Oh, and send some chocolate fishies too. Amen.

However, I determined to finish this beast book by the end of the year. At least the first draft part. And since it feels like snails on quaaludes could finish faster than I could at my current pace, the unique frenzy that is National Novel Writing Month could be just the kick in the pants I need.


Stop it.

I said NaNo could be the kick in the pants I need. You don’t need to kick me.


My starting November with a work-in-progress really isn’t all that unusual. In fact, there’s a whole forum on the site for folks like me.

So, if you think you can’t do NaNoWriMo because you’re working on something you don’t want to put aside for the next 30ish days, despair not.  Come join me and the other rule-breakers and get your NaNo on.

How are you doing NaNo this year?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Image via NaNoWriMo.org
The smile of the cheetah by Tambako the Jaguar, on Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
Grady Prays by ornoth, on Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

23 thoughts on “How to be a NaNoWriMo Rebel

  1. I wasn’t even supposed to do NaNo this year! November’s always a super-busy month for us, so I wanted to keep it small. I’m breaking the mold by writing a middle-grade novel, around 35,000 words. If I finish, I’m calling it a “win”, even if I’m not a NaNo winner.

  2. I’m not doing NaNo this year because a) I’m working on final edits for Nameless, and that’s not something you rush through in a month, and b) I’m still burnt out from being ML for so many years.

    It’s a total rush, though, and I’ve made my best friends through NaNo, so I hope you enjoy it and it’s just the kick in the pants you need to finish! I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines 🙂

  3. I’m entering as a rebel too and I was a rebel last year as well. While I like the idea of NaNo, I don’t like that it creates so many unfinished novels in the world. It’s National NOVEL Writing Month, not National DRAFTING Month. Revising, polishing, and finishing is the same a writing a novel, and I feel like I deserve to attend write ins and chat with other novelists as a NaNoer same as anyone.

    I’m glad I did enter as a Rebel last year too, because I made great headway on my draft and met the man of my dreams at the write-ins. We are on our way to our first Anniversary as NaNoers.

    Rebel on!

  4. There seem to be a lot of people that are breaking that particular rule. If I had a WIP, I certainly would. Good luck; I attempted NaNo over the summer and didn’t get very far, so I’m going to sit this one out.

  5. I’m doing NaNo, though I’ve still not quite decided on what I’m going to work on, despite only be two days from the start. I’m wondering if I can join you in the NaNo rebeldom and write two m/s at the same time!

  6. Hey Sonia, Chris Baty did an article a few years back about this — he was breaking the rule! I think if the creator of nano breaks the rule, it’s pretty much okay for the rest of us.

    And, yes I’m signed-up and raring to go…with a work in progress! I just don’t want to set it aside. I have over 20k, but I’m not importing that to my cool trial Scrivener software — still want to add 50k fresh.

  7. Go Sonia! Much success to you! I did do something similar last year and it was still really helpful! I’ll be missing those forums this year as I’m sittin out, but I may creep into the twitter feeds…Muahahaha *snatches NaNo chocolate*

  8. Glad to hear you’re on board. I’m in for the first time this year. I’m going to try to start from nothing but a couple of pages of notes. So far I know: vampire-like creature (which may actually be some sort of doppleganger thing) in a hotel / rooming house.

    I need something to break my sweaty-palmed clutch on the WIP novel that I can’t seem to finish.

  9. I’m still trying to finish editing the drafts from previous nano’s. They’ll have to wait now as I’m starting afresh.. I have an idea but it’s probably one that needs more planning than I’ve done so far. When’s the first? oops 😉 Looking forward to meeting you in nanoland!

  10. Ha! I’m being a rebel too – I’m doing the sequel for my post-apocalyptic almost-megabestselling novel for NaNoWriMo. 🙂 At least we’ll have each other lol ❤

  11. Hey Sonia you rebel! Sounds like a plan. I have to admit that I tried to work on a WIP in years past and it didn’t work for me, but that was really more to do with me not blocking out “sacred” time to write :-/

    Funny, I was thinking of doing the opposite – just starting out with a vague idea…Well, I’ve got 3 hours to decide lol.

    Break a leg as they say 🙂

  12. @Anna: Absolutely you’re a winner if you finish. Even if that’s not 50K. It would be interesting if NaNo offered customizations. Choose your word count goal, work with an anthology or pre-existing project.

    @Rebecca: Aww thanks! It does sound like you could use a break. I’ve been wanting to do NaNo for a couple of years now but I was always in the middle of something. I figured I just had to go for it though.

    @Rachelle: Thanks and you’re welcome too. 😀 I love finding images for posts…maybe even more than writing the posts. LOL

    @Marian: I hear ya. I think, for a lot of people, just having got through the month with 50K words is exactly what they need to encourage their writing. Then again, there’s probably a whole lot of partly finished NaNo novels buried in hard drives, never to see light of day. 😀

    @John: I do see their point but I *think* I can at least approach the legendary NaNo abandon with writing. It’s got to be a great way of squelching the inner critic’s voice.

    @Marissa: Sure! Why not? There’s a freedom in being a rebel too. LOL

    @Amy: 😀 I love, love, love Scrivener too. I finally learned how to set project targets so I can track my NaNo progress.

    @Jess: You’re totally welcome, of course. You can be the wise adviser to us newbies. LOL

    @Darla: I’m so excited too. Good luck to you.

    @Renae: May NaNo be your kick in the pants too!

    @Stephanie: Woohoo! Go rebels! 😀

    @Tim: The vague idea can definitely work. The energy of NaNo is bound to set fire to something.

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